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J Struct Biol. 1997 Jun;119(1):35-58.

Visualization of prosomes (MCP-proteasomes), intermediate filament and actin networks by "instantaneous fixation" preserving the cytoskeleton.

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Institut J. Monod, CNRS, Université Paris, France.


A new "instantaneous" fixation/extraction procedure, yielding good preservation of intermediate filaments (IFs) and actin filaments when applied at 37 degrees C, has been explored to reexamine the relationships of the prosomes to the cytoskeleton. Prosomes are protein complexes of variable subunit composition, including occasionally a small RNA, which were originally observed as trans-acting factors in untranslated mRNPs. Constituting also the proteolytic core of the 26S proteasomes, they are also called "multicatalytic proteinase (MCP) complexes" or "20S-Proteasomes." In Triton X-100-extracted epithelial, fibroblastic, and muscle cells, prosome particles were found associated primarily with the IFs (Olink-Coux et al., 1994). Application of "instantaneous fixation" has now led to the new observation that a major fraction of prosome particles, composed of specific sets of subunits, is distributed in variable proportions between the IFs and the microfilament/ stress fiber system in PtK1 epithelial cells and human fibroblasts. Electron microscopy using gold-labeled antibodies confirms this dual localization on classical whole mounts and on cells exposed to instantaneous fixation. In contrast to the resistance of the prosome-IF association, a variable fraction of the prosome particles is released from the actin cytoskeleton by Triton X-100 when applied prior to fixation. Moreover, in vitro copolymerization of prosomes with G-actin made it possible to observe "ladder-like" filamentous structures in the electron microscope, in which the prosome particles, like the "rungs of a ladder," laterally crosslink two or more actin filaments in a regular pattern. These results demonstrate that prosomes are bound in the cell not only to IFs but also to the actin cytoskeleton and, furthermore, not only within large M(r) complexes (possibly mRNPs and/or 26S proteasomes), but also directly, as individual prosome particles.

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